Conspicuous in its absence from the BALLS index since the start of this season, LSU has been the talk of college football for much of the season. The Tigers (6-1 ATS, 12.79 margin of cover) have risen to the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings largely because they have beaten five top-20 teams by an average of 23. 4 points.
LSU's brutal schedule, however, hasn't helped them reach the top 10 of BALLS -- a chart that shows which teams on average are the biggest favorites each week using data from Sal Selvaggio of MadduxSports.com -- but it has set up the most anticipated game of the 2011 season against the Alabama (No. 2 in the BCS, No. 1 in BALLS) this weekend.
Despite beating far less impressive opponents, the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1 ATS, 7.75 MOC) are four-point favorites. Selvaggio, for one, thinks the game won't be nearly as competitive as the linesmakers.
"I think Alabama is going to crush LSU," Selvaggio said. "After adjusting for strength of schedule, Alabama has advantages in every metric that I think is important, especially yards per play. The biggest advantage will be when LSU has the ball. Alabama's defense is great."
The anti-LSU might be the Wisconsin Badgers (4-3 ATS, 7.14 MOC). The Badgers are still holding strong as a top-10 BALLS team, despite their season falling apart. After a devastating loss to Michigan State on a Hail Mary on the last play of the game, Wisconsin lost another heartbreaker last week when Ohio State scored on a 40-yard pass with 20 seconds left to win 33-29. This week's opponent, the Purdue Boilermakers (3-3-1 ATS, minus-0.86 MOC), doesn't figure to be feeling sorry for Wisconsin, having lost by a combined score of 71-13 in the team's last two meetings. Wisconsin is once again expected to win big, currently listed as a 25.5-point favorite.
Let's turn to this week's BALLS Index.